Everything about pregnancy fears, causes and solutions. Let’s face your fears in pregnancy together and help you for a happy pregnancy.
When a woman who is trying to become pregnant watches as the pregnancy test stick turns blue, her first reaction, typically, is to feel ecstatic. Often, her second reaction is to feel scared. Experts say first-time moms-to-be may experience pregnancy fears about a myriad of issues from feeling as though they won’t be a good enough mother to wondering if they can manage labor pain.
Betsy R. of Grand Rapids, Michigan, a nurse midwife and program director for the midwifery education program, says women’s pregnancy fears tend to change depending on their stage of pregnancy. “They wonder what will it mean for their lives, what will it mean for them for work, what will it mean for their relationship,” Betsy says. “Financially, how are they going to support the baby? Is the father of the baby going to be supportive?”
Greatest Fear of a Woman
But a woman’s initial pregnancy fear, during the first few weeks, may be the question of whether or not she will remain pregnant. Dr. Henry Lerner, the author of Miscarriage: Why It Happens and How Best to Reduce Your Risks, says women have legitimate reasons to be concerned they might lose their baby during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
“It’s a very real concern,” says Dr. Lerner, an obstetrician/gynecologist. “Not to be an alarmist, but miscarriages occur in 20 percent of all pregnancies.” He says women are more likely to be worried if they have heard stories from friends or family members about the possibility of having a miscarriage.
To learn more about miscarriage : What are the Symptoms of Miscarriage?
After the 12th week, if the pregnancy has been progressing well, a woman’s risk of miscarriage falls to virtually zero, Dr. Lerner says.
According to Dr. Lerner, the most common cause of miscarriage is accidental, a random and wrong combination of chromosomes of the eggs and sperm during fertilization. Because most miscarriages are spontaneous, there is very little women can do to prevent them.
Dr. Lerner says a first-time mom-to-be also may have pregnancy fears about her child will be born with birth defects. Many problems cannot be picked up through ultrasound and blood tests. “There are many women, especially women who are smart, well-educated and in charge of their lives, who are finding pregnancy to be the first major experience they have where they are not totally in control, and it’s upsetting for them,” says Dr. Lerner, adding the good news is 97 percent of all babies are born without any apparent problems.
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When women feel more confident they will make it to full term, Betsy says they start to worry about their labor. Some women have heard horror stories of women who wanted to have a natural, vaginal birth being forced to have a C-section against their will.
To reduce the odds of having a C-section, stay at home during the early part of labor and let your water break on its own so you do not break the “infection barrier” for the baby, Betsy says. “Labor is labor, whether you are at home or at the hospital,” she says. “Assuming you are low risk and do not have complications, during the first part of labor you can be at home where you can eat what you want, move around and be as comfortable as you can until you really need that extra help. When you are getting to the point where you cannot cope, that is the time to move on to the hospital.” Expect to labor for 12 to 18 hours with several hours or even a few days of pre-labor.
“Sometimes they are more focused on the birth than thinking about the parenting,” Betsy says of moms-to-be. “They focus very much on if they are going to deliver vaginally, if they are going to need stitches or not, what’s their labor going to be like. Women who have had children before realize that comes and goes and I can get past that but it’s the parenting. I’m taking this baby home. This is another person I’m going to be raising all these years. Sometimes first-time moms, that hits them a little later than others.”
You should see our other articles and categories to learn the things you wonder.
Dealing with Birth Pain
Birth pains are also one of the most common fears in pregnancy. Betsy says women should have a plan for coping with labor pain, whether it’s soaking in a tub, going for a walk or sitting in a lounge chair. “If they are planning on going natural, then the more they can mentally prepare themselves for that, the better they will do, just like an athlete who is going into a marathon,” she says. “Labor is very physical, but it’s also very mental.”
Eloise B. of Morganton, North Carolina, a doula and childbirth educator, says she teaches women to understand their bodies so they can cope with the pain of labor. Eloise, who has three children of her own, has attended births for 25 years and worked as a professional doula for four years. “Generally, women have pregnancy fears on the pain of childbirth because that’s such a big thing our culture focuses on,” Eloise says. “Most of our clients are planning unmedicated births. They are worried whether they can do it or not. I tell them most births – not all – are painful. The vast majority are. But it’s very doable.” Eloise teaches first-time mothers yoga breathing patterns, visualization and ways to distract themselves from fears in pregnancy.
Check our article for detailed information about yoga and pregnancy : Doing Yoga in Pregnancy
Many women fear the pain of labor and their ability to have a natural birth without giving up or giving in to the temptation for painkillers. “That’s one of the great myths, that women think that pain threshold is attached to whether they can do labor or not,” Eloise says. “When we are walking around normally and drop something on our foot or smash our finger, that’s the body’s response: If something is wrong, fix it. Our bodies will eventually give us some endorphins to deal with that, but no other hormones to deal with an injury. When a woman is in labor, her body provides endorphins and oxytocin.” Oxytocin, a hormone produced in women’s bodies, aids in cervical dilation and reduces stress during labor.
Eloise says it’s important for a woman to feel as though she has the support of people around her who understand her birth plan and wishes. “I’ve had women who describe themselves as pain wimps, their husbands describe them as pain wimps and they do beautifully,” she says. “I have also been with women who consider themselves really tough and macho, like endurance athletes who torture their bodies all the time, and they don’t do well with it labor.”
Eloise says women may also have fears in pregnancy about tearing or having an episiotomy. “I still think women are concerned about the integrity of their vaginas,” Eloise says. “In our part of the country, episiotomies are not routine. I’ve been to over 100 births and I’ve seen one because women I’m with don’t want them. One of the myths is they will feel when they tear and they don’t. Tearing is relatively common and relatively minor. Usually, the majority of women I’m with … get a shot of local anesthetic and their tears are sutured. Tears heal better than episiotomies once they are sutured.”
Eloise says tears don’t happen as severely and don’t go in as deeply into the tissue as episiotomies do. Women may help prevent tears through perineal massages.
Other Common Pregnancy Fears
Another common fear pregnant women may have is gaining too much weight. Betsy suggests a woman of average weight gain between 25 to 30 pounds, while an overweight woman should gain 15 to 20 pounds and an underweight woman should gain 30 to 35 pounds. In addition to gaining the right amount of weight, a woman should avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, she says.
Have a look at our article about getting fit after pregnancy : Getting Rid of Weight After Pregnancy
Eloise says with greater public awareness, postpartum depression has become a concern with more women. The fear of whether or not a woman will be a good mother often comes up during labor, she says. “It’s hard for people to articulate when they are planning their pregnancy,” she says. “A lot of people suppress that. When it comes up in labor is when labor is slowing down or she is fighting her labor. I will say, ‘What’s going through your mind?’ Sometimes she will start crying and say, ‘I’m afraid to be a mom.’ Sometimes it’s more common with women who did not have good relationships with their own mothers.”
One of the biggest pregnancy fears older women have is losing their independence and alone time. “A lot of people are waiting until they are older to have children so they have a history with their partner,” says Eloise. “They are worried about that sweet time with their honey.”
Problems with in-laws also come to the surface when a couple decides to have a child. The woman’s mother-in-law might want to attend the birth or decide how the baby should be raised. “There is a little concern the in-laws are going to tell them what to do or criticize their parenting style,” Eloise says. “But most people feel pretty well equipped to stand up for what they are going to do.”
Finally, let your fears in pregnancy be your guide for coming up with a plan for dealing with possible complications and problems. At the same time, it’s important to accept that many things are out of your control.
Our articles are prepared to give advice. Always consult your doctor first for any problems and exact information.
The names of the people mentioned in the article have been changed for security reasons and to protect privacy.